5 Lessons Learned from My First Professional Makeup Artist Gig!

As you've seen in previous posts, I'm kind of a fan of this non-toxic beauty and skin care line called Beautycounter. I'm not going to go into a ton of detail about the products or mission in this post, considering I've talked ad nauseum about them previously, but I bring the brand up because it was thanks to my friend and "master" rep, Kerry, that I got to experience the life of a "professional" makeup artist for the first time.

Now, considering I've been writing a beauty blog for nearly 6 (!!!) years, there's no doubt that I love makeup and have done my fair share of experimenting with products. And sure, I did find myself being roped into doing bridal party makeup for two of my friends' weddings, but I also fully admit that neither of these things is truly a substitute for the rigorous training that professional makeup artists go through. Either way, I was pretty darn excited to have the opportunity to put my skills to test in a professional setting.

The place? A restored barn in Newtown Square. The event? The Saint Katherine's School Fashion Show. The mission? Do a full-face of makeup on up to 10 women in less than 2 hours (phew!).

I'd say at the end of the day the mission was indeed accomplished, but the experience of it taught me a lot about makeup, application techniques and the responsibility that one holds when you're in charge of making someone feel beautiful. Here are my top five lessons learned from the night:

1) There's definitely a formula to doing a great, standard face of makeup, and once you know it, you can repeat it on almost any face.

I worked on women with long faces, round faces, high cheekbones, deep-set eyes, light skin tones, dark skin tones...you name it, I saw it. And yet, the basic principles of makeup application were simple to use across all of the women. Sure, on some I dabbed on a bit more concealer to cover spots or dark circles; others needed almost no foundation and just a light dusting of powder, but nearly everyone looked good with strategically placed blush on the apples of the cheeks, bronze contouring under the cheekbones and a subtle smokey eye with dark colors on the outer V.

This is great news for women who feel a bit "afraid" of makeup or aren't sure what they're doing, because it means once you get the basics down, you can adapt them using different color palettes in your makeup collection to create hundreds of looks without actually having to vary your technique.

2) The Beautycounter products performed WAY better than even I expected.

As you know if you're a consistent reader of this blog, I'm big on honesty, so when I review products I'm not afraid to talk about things that don't meet my standards. I've had the opportunity to use a number of Beautycounter products on myself, and there have definitely been some I've loved and some I wouldn't buy again. But let me tell you, I was SHOCKED to see just how well all of the products performed on my models, even in spite of the huge variety of skin tones, skin types and skin textures.

The translucent powder, which bugs me in real life because it makes a crazy mess, was a huge life-saver when doing makeup on women with varied skin tones. The powder brush was perfect for applying it, and that stuff sucked up the oils on these women's faces with ease. The eyeshadow colors, while still mostly subtle and natural, were buildable and glowy, and with the black/dark gray shades, super easy to transform into a more dramatic look. The semi-sheer lipsticks, combined with the peony/clear lipglosses made for an absolutely beautiful lip combo on everyone -- I was really surprised to see just how different some of the same shades looked on different women! I was also pretty impressed with the quality of the eyeshadow brushes -- several of the women commented on how soft they were, and they were great multi-taskers.

The only negative commentary I can offer is on the brow and eyeliner pencils. The formula is just a bit too dry. I did my best to warm the pencils up on the back of my hand before applying on the women, but I still felt like I had to do quite a bit of tugging and repeat application to get a consistent payoff. I know this is a tough thing to get just right, as I've used many eyeliners that are TOO soft, but I do think a reformulation to either increase the pigmentation or reduce the dryness would be helpful.

3) Applying mascara on other people is HARD

I made the women curl their own eyelashes, because there was no way I was getting close to them with that medieval torture device, but applying their mascara was by far the hardest step in the process. You could totally tell who wears contacts and who doesn't by how twitchy/untwitchy each woman was, but getting that wand in there and really distributing the mascara so that it made their lashes long and lush was a challenge. Interestingly, applying mascara on the lower lashes was WAY easier.

4) Women are so beautiful (but they don't realize it!)

I wish I had a remedy for this one. I can't even tell you how many women sat down in the chair and felt the need to vomit out all of their dislikes about their face. It was almost as though they felt a compulsion to confess all of their skin sins before I got started. I heard all about how people were self-conscious of their dry skin or oily skin; their dark or puffy undereye circles; their wrinkles or their acne spots. But the funny thing is that ALL of these women were absolutely stunning, with or without makeup. Beautiful, mostly flawless skin. Amazing bone structure. Gorgeous, clear, bright eyes. Perfectly arched brows. Every woman that sat down should have been so incredibly confident in herself, yet she spent lots more time picking apart her features than celebrating them.

5) Being a makeup artist is a fascinating, but certainly challenging, job

You really have to be comfortable getting up in people's personal space. You can't be afraid to touch them, move their hair, get all up in under their nostrils, around their mouths and near their eyes. I was constantly thinking about whether or not my breath was fresh, not wanting to torture anyone with rank smelliness. I didn't stop to drink any water in two hours. I easily lost track of time. I wanted to be a perfectionist, but had to curb my urge. I felt great when someone looked at herself in the mirror and immediately smiled or lit up. I felt guilty when they looked and seemed to see something that didn't make them happy (and especially so when they gave me a fake smile after or didn't ask me to fix/change something, which I would have happily done). There's a lot of pressure to perform (and perform well), and it's super important to really know your products, how they work and what colors look best on whom.

Overall, I had a really great time and would love the opportunity to do it again in the future. But more than anything it helped me realize just how giving it is to be a makeup artist -- although you're just highlighting and shading features that already exist, you're unlocking a woman's ability to feel confident and beautiful, and that's the greatest gift of all!

*NOTE: I was not compensated by Beautycounter to write this post, nor did they ask that I write it. I was compensated for my appearance as a professional makeup artist at the event. 


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